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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: "21 Bridges" collapses under a traffic jam of clichés

Nov 22, 2019 01:09AM ● By Dan Metcalf

Chadwick Boseman in 21 Bridges - © 2019 STX Entertainment.

21 Bridges (STX Entertainment)

Rated R for violence and language throughout.

Starring Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, J. K. Simmons, Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch, Keith David, Alexander Siddig, Louis Cancelmi, Victoria Cartagena, Gary Carr, Morocco Omari, Dale Pavinski, Adriane Lenox, Sarah Ellen Stephens, Christian Isaiah, Jamie Neumann.

Written by Adam Mervis and Matthew Michael Carnahan.

Directed by Brian Kirk.



One of the most transparent indicators of a weak crime story is the use of the “corrupt cop” trope as the only means to make an otherwise implausible scenario work. Such is the case for 21 Bridges, a new crime drama starring Chadwick Boseman as righteous NYC detective fighting the evil within his own department.

Boseman portrays Det. Andre Davis, a trigger-happy cop whose father was killed while on duty as an NYC police officer 19 years before the present day. One night, two thugs (Stephan James and Taylor Kitsch) break into a Brooklyn restaurant where they think someone is storing 30 pounds of cocaine. They are surprised to discover more than 300 pounds of the narcotic inside, but their escape is thwarted by eight police officers who also happen to show up at the same time. A great shootout ensues, and the thugs kill off all the officers, getting away with as much cocaine as they can carry. When Det. Davis shows up to investigate, he is met with disapproval from the dead officers’ commanding officer, Capt. McKenna (J.K. Simmons). In order to capture the cop-killing thieves, Andre convinces the powers that be to close Manhattan, including all 21 bridges in and out the island where the thugs are last seen on surveillance cameras. Since the crime involves narcotics, Davis is joined in his investigation by Det. Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller), a street-smart single mom. Every time Detectives Davis and Burns get close to clues that might help them capture the so-called “bad guys,” other officers intervene, killing off key witnesses along the way. After Andre tracks down one of the shooters, he learns the truth behind the cocaine ring being operated by – you guessed it – the same officers involved in the restaurant shooting. But how far does the conspiracy go? Det. Davis must outwit and outmaneuver the sinister forces behind the scheme in order to save his life and bring justice to real perpetrators.

21 Bridges might have been a tense crime mystery, but its dependence on the “bad cop” cliché is so transparent, there really isn’t much point in staying to the less-than climactic finale. You’d think the talents of gifted actors like Boseman and Simmons might lift the movie beyond its hackneyed and lazy story, but they can’t overcome the overt stupidity on parade. So transparent is the story, it would have been easier to just have all the bad cops wear a “bad cop” tattoo on their foreheads and save everyone the trouble of sitting through the hour and forty-minute running time. Some fast-paced action and witty dialogue add a little interest, but 21 Bridges’ obvious flaws make it an irredeemable and forgettable cinematic experience.     

"21 Bridges" Trailer